Guardian: The European Space Agency (ESA) has approved a space telescope mission to launch in 2017. The first of a proposed series of small science missions costing about €50 million ($65 million), Cheops (Characterizing Exoplanets Satellite) will search for extrasolar planets that could support life. Although NASA’s Kepler space telescope is already looking for distant exoplanets, Cheops will look at star systems much closer to Earth’s solar system and in more detail. The search has been narrowed by Earth-based telescopes, which have detected a number of stars with planets in orbit around them, but Earth’s atmosphere distorts the view. With Cheops, researchers hope to not only better examine those planets but also seek other, smaller ones that cannot be seen from Earth’s surface.